The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama

The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama

Author:Dalai Lama
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2016-09-06T09:57:50+00:00

Days 4 and 5

The Eight Pillars of Joy


Perspective: There Are Many Different Angles

As we said right at the beginning, joy is a by-product,” the Archbishop began. “If you set out and say, I want to be happy, clenching your teeth with determination, this is the quickest way of missing the bus.” So if joy and happiness are by-products, what exactly are they by-products of? It was time to delve deeper into the qualities of mind and heart that we needed to cultivate to catch that bus.

“We have now covered the nature of true joy and the obstacles to joy,” I said as we began our fourth day of dialogues. “Now we are ready to move on to the positive qualities that allow us to experience more joy.”

We had discussed the topic of mental immunity in reducing fear and anger and other obstacles to joy, but the Dalai Lama had explained that mental immunity was also about filling our mind and heart with positive thoughts and feelings. As our dialogue progressed, we converged on eight pillars of joy. Four were qualities of the mind: perspective, humility, humor, and acceptance. Four were qualities of the heart: forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity.

On the first day, the Archbishop had touched the fingers of his right hand to his heart to emphasize its centrality. We would end up, ultimately, at compassion and generosity, and indeed both men would insist that these two qualities were perhaps most pivotal to any lasting happiness. Yet we needed to begin with some fundamental qualities of the mind that would allow us to turn more easily and frequently to the compassionate and generous response to life. As the Dalai Lama had said at the start of our dialogues, we create most of our suffering, so we should be able to create more joy. The key, he had explained, was our perspective and the thoughts, feelings, and actions that come as a result.

Scientific research consistently supported so much of the dialogue that was unfolding over the week. The factors that psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky has found to have the greatest influence on our happiness supported a number of the eight pillars. The first concerned our perspective toward life, or, as Lyubomirsky described it, our ability to reframe our situation more positively. Our capacity to experience gratitude and our choice to be kind and generous were the others.

A healthy perspective really is the foundation of joy and happiness, because the way we see the world is the way we experience the world. Changing the way we see the world in turn changes the way we feel and the way we act, which changes the world itself. Or, as the Buddha says in the Dhammapada, “With our mind we create our own world.”

• • •

For every event in life,” the Dalai Lama said, “there are many different angles. When you look at the same event from a wider perspective, your sense of worry and anxiety reduces, and you have greater joy.” The Dalai Lama


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